This post is dedicated to my good friend Delvia Barrett, who loves aviation as much as I do.
When I was little, my favorite TV show was Sky King. For the benefit of those of you not old enough to know what I’m talking about, it was a show that ran from the mid-fifties through the sixties. It was about a rancher, his niece Penny and their twin engine airplane named “Songbird”. The plots varied, but they always revolved around flying adventures of one sort or another. It made a huge impression on me. From the first episode, I was hooked. I always knew I would learn to fly some day.
A lot of years passed before that dream became a reality. Finally, the summer I was thirty, my time had come. The little town I live in has a grass roots country airport with one main runway and several grass runways. It was really hot that August afternoon I walked into the hangar that advertised flying lessons. The sign said you could take a discovery flight for $10.00. How could I possibly pass that up? The owner of the flight school introduced me to one of the flight instructors. I told her I wanted to take a discovery flight and paid my $10.00. The next thing you know I’m following the instructor outside to a little two-seat red & white Cessna 150. I was so excited I could barely breathe.
My instructor taught me how to do a “walk-around”, where you literally walk around the airplane inspecting the main flight control surfaces to make sure they all move freely. I started to go around to get in the passenger side and he said, “no, get in on the left – you’re flying”. What?????? “Excuse me, you do understand this is just a discovery flight – I don’t know how to fly.” “Well, you will in about 10 minutes.” As I got in and fastened my seat belt, the instructor began pointing out all the instruments on the instrument panel, explaining their functions. Some of it made sense, some of it was total Greek. I put the key in the ignition, yelled “clear” to alert anybody standing close to the plane that I was starting the prop, and turned over the engine. The propeller came to life and an instantaneous smile spread across my face. I looked over at my instructor and he was smiling too. “Happens every time, he said.” He explained how to use the rudder pedals to steer the plane while we were still on the ground. I pushed in the throttle and used a little bit of left rudder and we were off down the taxiway. As we got to the edge of the runway, I turned the plane in a 360 degree circle, craning my neck to make sure no other planes were landing. Since it’s a small airport, there’s no control tower to regulate traffic – you’re on your own to make sure you spot other planes. I edged out onto runway 14 and turned the Cessna into the wind. After announcing my intention over the radio advising other traffic I was taking off, I gave it full throttle with enough right rudder to keep it centered down the middle of the runway. The speedometer crept up between 50-60 knots and I pulled back slightly on the yoke. All of a sudden we were airborne. I was flying!!!
We spent the next thirty minutes doing basic turns and climbs. I was so excited I’m not sure how much of that lesson I soaked up. All too soon my time was up and we were re-entering the traffic pattern to land. The instructor told me to gently leave my hands on the yoke and follow him through on the controls as he landed. We glided down and I felt the slight skid on the pavement when the wheels made contact with the runway. He let me taxi back to the hangar and park the plane. I helped him tie it down and walked back inside. I immediately signed up for my next lesson the following Saturday. I was on Cloud 9 as I drove home. There aren’t accurate words to describe the feeling you get in the air. Of course, it’s still exciting to get on a commercial airliner and scream down the runway at 120 knots, but in a small plane, you really get more of the sensation of flying, especially if you’re the pilot.
If you’re wondering what the spiritual context of this post is, it’s this….God cares about every dream in your heart. This is one he made come true for me.
Hope you enjoyed it! Please leave a comment if you’d like. I’d love to hear about some of your life’s adventures. You can also sign up to follow my blog and receive an email whenever there’s a new post.
See you next weekend,